Palou soars two tenths clear to lead second Barber practice

Jake Galstad/Lumen

Palou soars two tenths clear to lead second Barber practice


Palou soars two tenths clear to lead second Barber practice


Alex Palou mounted his title-winning NTT IndyCar Series campaign with a victory at Barber Motorsports Park in 2021, and the Chip Ganassi Racing driver summoned similar speed to lead the second practice session of the weekend with a lap of 1m06.2781s in his No. 10 Honda. Most of the session was used by teams to focus on race setups before transitioning to qualifying setups.

“We’re looking strong,” Palou said. “I’m happy with the car, so it’s going to be a tight qualifying, but I’m feeling comfortable.”

Palou was 0.2352s clear of his closest rival—an eternity on a circuit like Barber—Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevy, whose 1m06.5133s lap was a fraction faster than teammate Scott McLaughlin’s 1m06.5386s in the No. 3 Chevy.

Ganassi’s Scott Dixon was fourth in his No. 9 Honda with a 1m06.6090s tour and the top five was sealed with Colton Herta’s No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda and the 1m06.6788s lap he generated.

McLaughlin, Friday’s fastest driver, went straight to the top in the 45-minute session with a 1m07.0036s lap and improved to a 1m06.7282s after seven minutes were completed. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard was second at the time with a 1m07.0487s in the No. 45 Honda.

Newgarden nearly matched his teammate after 10 minutes with a 1m06.7335s lap to take second; Lundgaard was third and Palou was fourth with a 1m07.1069s.

Dixon was next to make a move, jumping to third with a 1m06.9599s lap after 13 minutes, but it was short lived as Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi grabbed third with a 1m06.8094s in the No. 7 Chevy.

With 15 minutes gone, the next mover was Callum Ilott in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy, who went to fifth with a 1m06.9705s tour, and moments later Lundgaard surged back to third with a 1m06.7711s lap behind Newgarden and McLaughlin.

Counting down to 20 minutes left, Andretti’s Kyle Kirkwood shot to fifth in the No. 27 Honda with a 1m06.9333s lap and had Dixon and Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist directly behind him.

Palou took P1 with 17 minutes remaining with a 1m06.6568s as teams got into their final push with qualifying setups. He’d improve it to a 1m06.2781s to create a gap of nearly 0.5s to McLaughlin and Andretti’s Romain Grosjean climbed to fourth with 12 minutes left with a 1m06.7455s. Herta then jumped to second with a 1m06.6788s in the No. 26 Honda.

Newgarden lowered his time to a 1m06.5133s to take second as the clock dipped below 10 minutes to go and teammate McLaughlin did the same, generating a 1m06.5386s to take third as the leaders held station to the checkered flag.

The cause of the event’s first red flag on Friday also caused the latest red flag as Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves spun and stalled in the same general area; the stoppage came with 46 second left to go, which had minimal effect on the session as most of the drivers had already pitted after setting their best laps.

UP NEXT: Qualifying, 3pm ET